The UCSB men’s volleyball team will try to rebound from its tough five-game match defeat at UCLA by heading off to the Pyramid to face Long Beach State tonight at 7:30 in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match.
#8 Santa Barbara faced #1 UCLA on the heels of an exhilarating five-game match win over Irvine last Tuesday. By fighting the defending national champion Bruins in a brutally close 3-2 loss, 30-20, 30-32, 30-23, 22-30, 15-12.
"It was a tough match," junior opposite hitter Andy Rivera said. "We just didn’t make a couple of key plays. It was just a couple of plays that [hurt us in the long run]. Three mistakes over the course of a five-game match were the difference. Everyone fought hard, and we’re not down at all. Hopefully, we can bring it to Long Beach."
The loss was also tough to swallow considering Santa Barbara defeated Los Angeles in the championship match of the preseason Elephant Bar Invitational 3-2. The victory was also the Gauchos’ first of the season; UCSB won the first three matches of its season.
The Gauchos (5-4, 3-4 in the MPSF) did, however, show that they are capable of playing with the poise and desire to handle the 49ers and other MPSF foes, maintaining rallies and constantly improving their passing attack. Santa Barbara was doomed by another slow start and missed sets in the contest.
"The deciding factor in the UCLA game was just the small plays," junior setter David Kohl said. "In a lot of small plays we have to be exact in our game execution. Our transition passes were not precise, and we weren’t getting the sets we needed. We also started off the match really slow, which hurt us; it took us a while to get back in the game."
Junior opposite hitter Ben Koski bolstered Santa Barbara with 22 kills and nine digs. UCSB hit only .259 percent of its kills on the evening. UCLA outblocked the Gauchos 16-12.5.
UCSB will now square off against the rival 49ers, who were 6-2 before Feb. 14. The Gauchos will try to get over .500 in conference competition in their match.
"We’re working at the same things, including our blocking defense and transition offense," Rivera said. "[But] we keep getting better with every day, and with every new practice we’re adding new things offensively and defensively. Three or four games from now, we’ll be rolling and getting in our swing."